Commenting on the Welsh Government’s draft budget announcement today, Head of the WRC Sara Jones said:

“There are some positive aspects to today’s draft Welsh Budget but retailers would like to have seen a stronger emphasis on measures that keep down the cost of doing business, and which would encourage future investment in communities across Wales.  With falling shop prices, increasing empty shops, and fewer shoppers in stores, the industry continues to seek certainty and continuity over the forthcoming period.

“The Finance Secretary announced the four new tax ideas which will receive further consideration.  Whist we are supportive of examining how the new levers available to the National Assembly for Wales can be used to change behaviours and deliver improvements for our communities, we would urge extreme caution in adding any undue burdens and financial penalty on retailers at a time of such transformational change and likely contraction in store footprint and jobs over the forthcoming period.  Given the potential for unintended consequences we would expect to be closely consulted on any pertinent proposals as they are progressed.

“As the detailed budget plans are published later this month, we would hope to see further detail on how consumers and retailers alike can be supported during these challenging times.  We continue to press the case for the recommendations outlined in our paper to the Finance Secretary last month, in particular for the Welsh Government to keep down business rates and to provide an annual review on the implementation of the apprenticeship levy in Wales”.